Leviathan is one of the favourite for winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. That sparked my interest and was curious to see if it could overrun my current favourite from Poland named Ida.
Kolya is a regular man who lived in a small seaside Russian town with his younger second wife Lilya and a teenage son from his first marriage Roma. He was being evicted out of his home by the mayor. He enlisted the legal assistance of a junior army buddy Dmitry, who has since become a hotshot lawyer in Moscow. However, as Kolya becomes the unfortunate victim more and more, both in the political and domestic fronts, Dmitry’s arrival may actually have brought more harm than good.
Andrey Zvyagintsev does a perfect job. It is beautifully shot in wide screen, with the glimmer light of the northernmost part of Russia, in a small coastal town, we are shown a series of events triggered by the ambition of the corrupt local mayor. The skeleton of a beached whale appears in one of the most impressing and beautiful shots of the film. A leviathan from the sea, silent witness of the human affairs occurring at short distance from it.
Political and economic interests intermingle with the best and worst aspects of the human condition, involving loyalty, friendship, love, passion, human weakness in general, which will play a critical role in the development of the story and the acting of the main characters — Aleksey Serebryakov (as Kolya), Elena Lyadova (as Lilya) and Vladimir Vdovichenkov (as Dmitriy) — were generally very good.
But here’s the thing, despite the exotic setting, the events in the story could in fact have happened anywhere else in the world. The political corruption aspect of this film (about how the powerful had the poor under their thumbs) has been tackled many times in many foreign films. The family problems tackled in the film (poverty, rebellion, betrayal) are also really nothing new.
The film honestly felt like two separate films with an actually smart but too little transition in the middle (which caught me in a ‘what the fuck just happened’ reaction). A couple of major characters in the first half of the film totally disappeared in the second half. One suddenly reappeared at the end, while the other was not mentioned anymore at all. There was a climactic twist of sorts, but it was not as big or surprising as I was expecting, as in fact I saw it coming miles away.
I was just not that impressed with ‘Leviathan’ as I was with ‘Ida’. The film felt just okay with me, it mainly was because I just couldn’t connect neither with the characters or the story, despite the fact that is very good acted and written, it was nothing new to me.
Leviathan gets a 7.2/10.